A police chief thought a late-night crash report was a joke, but a picture of the cause is a real hoot


Officer Lance Benjamin was patrolling a Louisiana neighborhood on Christmas Eve when he got an unexpected visit from nature.

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“I felt something hit the left side of my face,” Benjamin tells WVUE. “So I’m thinking, maybe it’s a football or something and then I felt some scratching on the back of my head and some pecking.”

The barred owl’s talons led the officer to lose control of his police car, crashing in a ditch.

“I tried to keep control of my car, went into a ditch, avoided some trees. Finally was able to stop the car, put it in park, (and) get out. And there he was, just chilling out in the car.”

Police Chief Tim Lentz initially thought the text he received about the incident was a prank, but the accident was verified from the officer’s dashcam video.

The chief posted the following message about the crash on Facebook:

I am sound asleep thinking about the upcoming Christmas events, spending time with your family and friends, enjoying some great food when I think I hear my phone go off with a text message at 1:45am. I look at my phone in a half daze and think it reads something like, “Officer Benjamin involved in a crash after owl flies into his unit”. Maybe this is just someone’s weird way of playing a joke on me in the middle of the night so I roll over and go back to sleep. Surely nothing as outrageous as an owl flying into a police car could happen. I imagined the next text would be that Santa Clause was spotted on Collins Blvd.

So, when I finally awake from my night’s sleep, once again, I look at my phone to see if I missed any calls or text during the night and sure enough there was a text at 1:45am announcing that “Officer Benjamin involved in a crash after owl flies into his unit.” Maybe it wasn’t a dream, so I get to the office and review the body camera footage from the night before. Surely if something as crazy as an owl flying into a police car happened, it would be on someone’s body camera.

And yes it was. Turns out that Officer Lance Benjamin was patrolling the Savanah’s Subdivision with his window rolled down listening and looking for anything suspicious, when an owl flew into his open window. The owl began scratching and pecking at Officer Benjamin causing him to briefly lose control of his police car, driving into a ditch. Officer Benjamin suffered minor scratches and will probably need a new uniform shirt (and maybe pants). After being checked out by medical personnel he returned to work to finish his shift with an amazing story to tell, and proof it happened.

Officers opened the door of the police car, and the owl flew off into the darkness.

I will try to send a brief video clip in a separate email. I am having a little technical difficulties. If for some reason it doesn’t come through, you should be able to grab it off of our Facebook account.

Happy holidays,

Tim Lentz

CNN reports that Benjamin completed his shift after being treated for scratches and getting a tetanus shot and antibiotics.

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